This post was supposed to be about World Bipolar Day, but its not. This post is about loss, heartache and longing for rest.
If you are an active member in the mental health community, you probably heard that Amy Bleuel passed away on March 23rd. I was angry when I first heard the news. I felt somewhat betrayed and lost. Amy Bleuel changed the lives of many, including my own. She gave me the courage to be open and honest about my illness. For once I had a space to share and not feel ashamed; a space where no one would ask me if my illness was real or not. She is the reason I began focusing my blog on mental illness and mental health awareness. For a moment, losing her felt like losing my ability to be open, to write, to fight.
However I can’t be angry with her because I understand. The thing is that when you get so preoccupied with wanting to save other people, you forget to take the time to save yourself. And the world doesn’t make it easy. It’s like if your permission to feel any emotion is revoked when you become a mental health advocate. People expect you to have it together all the time, to follow the tips and tricks that you share on your blog, and to always be in a good space.
But this is far from the truth!
I talk to a lot of people about mental health and how to cope with a mental illness, but I never talk to anyone about how I am feeling or coping. It is as though the world (in my eyes) expects me to be strong and poised at all times. I am not allowed to express grief or pain. No time is given for me to process the emotions that come with a mood cycle. I am a life guard that is not given the opportunity to be saved every once in a while. And I know that most of the time it’s the bipolar at work. It’s the one that makes me feel guilty for wanting to take time off writing or not replying to a text; it’s the one that makes me feel like a terrible individual when I wish to help myself before I help another.
I am learning that advocates are not immune from the evils they fight against. In the same way that one writes or talks to others about mental health, one also has to do it to oneself.
If you or anyone you love is struggling right now, please don’t feel alone. Make use of the various resources we have available. Visit a mental health practitioner or a health care centre, talk to someone and know you are not alone.